Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Forget

This is a view of the Chesapeake Bay from the vicinity of Bethel Beach. It's some beach in between Haven and Bethel and so help me I can't figure out what it's called. Or I knew and I've forgotten. I forget practically everything these days. My brain cells went on strike after my children were born and they've never gone back to work. I need to fire them and hire some new ones.

Folks, it is time for a little quiz. See if you can answer the following questions correctly:

1. Yesterday, Chesapeake Bay Woman went to the Court House (village) to run some errands. What happened?

a) She had to write down in excruciating detail every single stop she needed to make and what she needed to do or procure at each one. If she did not carry this list with her, she would get to the Court House and not remember one single thing on the list. Nary a one.

b) She stopped to get gas, which she HATES to do almost as much as ironing, which she never does and would sooner throw an item away or wear it wrinkled than ever pull out an iron. She realized she needed to get a Gazette Journal (the local paper) and ran into Zooms to pick one up while she left the gas pumping. She does this all the time with no problems whatsoever. Today, though, she was flustered more than usual and she drove off from the gas pump. With the nozzle still in the gas tank.

c) All of the above and I need a vacation.

2. Why does Chesapeake Bay Woman refer to herself in the third person sometimes, but not always, and not even consistently within the same post?

a) She's nuts.
b) She needs a vacation.
c) She forgets that she is Chesapeake Bay Woman and thinks she's writing about someone else.
d) All of the above.

1. c
2. d

Stay tuned, everyone. Hopefully later today I'll post one of my mother's stories. Right now I have to tackle a list of 145 things to get done before vacation, and I am stressing more than usual. Forgetting stuff and driving off from a gas pump without removing the nozzle doesn't help matters. Not one bit.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Student

This is somebody else's porch. I snuck in their flower bed and quickly took this picture one evening. I don't normally trespass on other people's property. Although sometimes my definition of "normally" and "trespass" are open for interpretation. For example, I might consider it normal to trespass up to four times a year. Just as an example.

This week my sister had a birthday and she got engaged. ("Got" is definitely a helping verb. I learned this in my four years and three months in college.) I'd like to share a Middle Sister story with you in honor of all her great achievements this week.

Middle Sister was considered nothing short of a genius in school. This was because Chesapeake Bay Girl used to play school with her every single day when we were growing up. I had some sort of weird hang-up about needing to write on a chalk board and give orders. What I mean to say is that I really had an ardent desire to teach others how to read and write. And since there were no other available students, Middle Sister reaped the benefits of all my teaching.

As a result, Middle Sister ended up skipping a grade, she went to some Governor's School for the Gifted, and she was salutatorian or something like that when she graduated high school.

Now, with all that being said, I'd like to share an entry from her diary that is in stark contrast to the Middle Sister I have just described as genius:

Tuesday, January 6, 1976

Dear Diary,
Today we had to write on a famous* person in our unit. I wrote on Pocahontas. We had a stupid spelling test today. Write [sic] now or before I watched Mash. Before I had eaten ice cream and watched t.v. Tommarow [sic] is Wed. and it's my gym day. We get to skip** spelling. Today was fiar [sic].

Middle Sister


Hmmm. Spelling was stupid. She got to skip spelling. And yet the day was still considered fiar?

I'm no genius, nor did I attend the Governor's School for the Gifted, but I think someone ought not to have skipped spelling. It just doesn't seem fiar to me.

*Note: She originally spelled "famous" as "famoss" but then corrected it.
** She first wrote "scip" and then corrected it.
I thought it was important that you know this.

It's also important that you know that no matter how hard I try I cannot for the life of me figure out how to strike through text in this blog. I'll just have to ask my technology teacher, Grandma J.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Working Vacation

This is a picture of a slightly imperfect (arguably) sunset over the bay. Slightly imperfect very adequately describes not only my family, but my life, including vacations, where imperfection is abundant to the point of infestation.

Continuing with this week's theme of family vacations, I'd like to talk about another time my family rented a beach house.

Here's how the daily routine typically went:

1. Chesapeake Bay Woman cooks breakfast for the entire family with a smile on her face.

2. CBW cleans up breakfast.

3. CBW dreams of some time alone at the beach.

4. CBW reaches for a beach chair and suntan lotion and then hears, "What's for lunch?"

5. CBW provides lunch. With a tentative look on her face.

6. CBW cleans up lunch remnants.

7. CBW dreams of a relaxing afternoon at the beach with a nice refreshing beverage.

8. CBW is told that it is almost supper time and that we need some Most Obscure Item or Ingredient that requires Trip # 265 to the grocery store(where 264.5 trips to the store were already made by CBW, and all those groceries were hauled up sixteen flights of steps in Amazon Jungle-level heat and humidity). It's official: CBW has an attitude.

9. CBW races home from the store where throngs of starving people are rioting in the driveway. CBW's attitude is wicked.

10. CBW cooks dinner, cleans up and then shoots self. (Not really, but at a minimum she's brandishing a battle-axe.) CBW's Family is safe and sound, however. And well fed. CBW spends rest of vacation with a permanent scowl on her face.

The End.

I can't wait for this so-called vacation.

Or can I?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Family Vacation

Next week CBW, CBW's Son, CBW's Daughter, Mother, Father and Sisters will be traveling to the beach for a family "vacation." Aside from last year's trip to Georgia, The Chesapeake Bay Family has not vacationed together in over 7 years. I am starting to get nervous about this vacation. Extremely nervous.

One of the very first times the Chesapeake Bay Family rented a beach house was one very interesting experience. My son was just a toddler, so I was hardly on any vacation. I had to drive Chesapeake Bay Toddler by myself all the way from Northern Virginia, which took exactly this long: WHAT A NIGHTMARE. Son did not want any part of a car seat for hours on end, plus he had to eat every two minutes, or he needed a sippy cup or he needed another diaper or whatever. I drove most of the way with one hand on the wheel and the other wiping tears from my eyes as I reached backwards to tend to Son, when what I really wanted was my own private sippy cup. Filled with California's finest.

I spent the entire week practicing to be a pack mule down the Grand Canyon. All I did each and every day was haul a thrashing child and all the assorted paraphernalia back and forth from the beach to the house and back again and rinse and repeat over and over ad nauseum. It was definitely no vacation.

Anyway, Little Sister brought a friend with her, a friend from high school, a friend I didn't really know that well. I don't have many rules in life, but one of my Vacation Rules is I don't vacation with people I don't know well. But I didn't have a choice this time, and I didn't have an opportunity to read the Vacation Rules to Little Sister because I was too busy playing pack mule and actually didn't consider this a vacation. It was just a change of scenery.

In spite of my Vacation Rule about strangers, Little Sister's Friend quickly started to blend right in, and she was beginning to understand all the quirks and eccentricities inherent to Chesapeake Bay Family. One incident, however, she could never have prepared for.

Every night we fixed a great big supper and sat around the table which had magnificent views of both a bird sanctuary and the ocean. It was a great place to relax, drink from your sippy cup and eat seafood. We were all sitting down waiting for my mother, who had been tinkering around in her bedroom. Imagine our surprise when she showed up at the supper table wearing a pair of shorts and her bra. No shirt. A bra with a floral print on it. No shirt. She sat right down at the dinner table. Wearing a bra.

Now ordinarily I might have shrugged this whole incident off, but we were on vacation with a near-stranger. And Mother was sitting down to the supper table in a bra.

Unable to control my shock and disbelief I said, "Is that a BRA you're wearing?" CBW's Mother said, "Yep. Pass the shrimp."

Evidently her book of Vacation Rules is different from mine.

Did I mention I'm starting to get nervous about next week? I am.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Birthday

Today is my Middle Sister's birthday. She turns 59 today. Oh, all right, she's younger than that. I guess it doesn't do me any good to say she's older than her true age because that would only make me that much older. Or something like that.

Last year at this time was my Middle Sister's 40th birthday. To make it a special occasion for her, my entire family flew to Georgia to help her celebrate.

Do any of you know what it is like to travel with parents who never go anywhere? How about a mother who has a mortal fear of flying, an absolute inability to leave home for extended periods of time, and an overall distrust of modern technology (including cell phones, answering machines and clothes dryers)? When I told her that we all should visit Middle Sister for her 40th birthday and that I would pay for their airfare, you've never heard more excuses fly from her mouth about why that would never do.

See if you can select which statements below were offered as legitimate reasons why she could not fly to her daughter's 40th birthday party:

1. I can't go because my goose needs me and will die if I'm not here to take care of it. *

2. Nobody knows how to water my flowers except me. There's no possible way I can go and leave those plants to die.

3. Cat food is on sale this week, and if I go to Georgia I will miss the sale.

4. Your father has plucked my last nerve. Why don't y'all take him to Georgia and let me stay here to take care of the animals and plants?

5. I just drove to see your Middle Sister ten years ago. Do I have to go all the way back there again so soon?

6. The ducks will never make it if I am not here.**

7. Nobody except me knows how to feed these cats. Simba gets the special urinary tract health formula and cannot eat the cheap stuff that Pumpkin eats. The Barn Cat needs a special plate brought to him and placed on the second to the last step of the staircase leading to the top floor of the barn - if you put it anywhere else he'll never find it. Cheetah needs an antibiotic pill every day at exactly 9:02 a.m. and Leo gets lobster served on a silver platter every night at not one second later than 6:00 p.m. Danger the Dog gets a nightly turn down service with a mint and a rose left on his satin sheets and pillow. Joleen the Dog is bathed by hand every night and then gets a manicure. If none of these things happen as described, life will cease to exist as we know it. Why don't y'all understand I can't go to Georgia??

* Did you know it's far better to stuff a goose into a dog house and block it in each and every night than it is to simply let the goose roam free inside its pen? Yep, it's true. Predators like raccoons and foxes will get the goose if you don't take these drastic measures. And only my mother knows the routine.

** Did you know it's better to zip ducks up in a tent at night (inside their pen, and with an air vent) rather than allow them to roam free because of predators? Did you know that a predator capable of devouring a live duck more than likely can make its way through a nylon tent? Can anyone explain this fact to my mother? I'll pay you good money. Thank you.

In spite of ALL of the above excuses, my parents did fly to Georgia. Xanax was involved. And a whole lot of eating at Red Lobster. And much, much stress. And confusion. And many trips by them to the free popcorn in the hotel lobby every afternoon. And an absolute obsession with the fact that the hotel gave away free breakfast every day. And them getting lost in the Mall of the Americas. And more stress. Then more Xanax (to clarify it was for my mother, although others among us surely could have used some). Then a bumpy plane ride home.

And a firm conviction never to travel with my parents via airplane again.

Happy Birthday, Middle Sis, and thank you so much for not having another birthday party that would require your parents' attendance.

Please tell me your wedding will be in Mathews.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lazy Sunday

This is my picture, but the words below are from a book called, "Chesapeake Bay and Tidewater," by A. Aubrie Bodine. *

"...In measurable terms, the Chesapeake Bay is probably the most impressive body of water in the United States. The Bay, which is 22 miles broad at its widest point, is 195 miles long. It has 48 main tributaries which are fed by 102 branches. The 150 rivers, creeks and branches are navigable for a distance of 1,750 miles. The total tidal shoreline of the Bay is an estimated 5,100 miles. The surface area of these waters is nearly four times the area of Rhode Island. The Bay's drainage system is nearly 65,000 square miles--almost equal to all of New England."

"...The Bay is changing and yet the Bay has never really changed. After centuries it is still, as an early settler described it, "The Noblest Bay in the Universe."

* You can call this being lazy, and you'd be correct, but you might also call it trying to be educational....and you could still say I am lazy and be correct. Also, I've completely forgotten all the grammar rules regarding quoting and citing books. So not only am I being lazy, I am in dire need of a Strunk and White guide.

Except I'd probably be too lazy to refer to it even if I had it.

Friday, July 25, 2008


"Seagull" sounds something like "softball," doesn't it?. That's the only correlation between this picture and what follows.

Parks and Rec Summer Softball in Mathews used to be as competitive as the Olympics, and way more fun.

My mother was the one who first got me interested in softball. She played in the summer league with a bunch of ladies in their 30's and 40's. I had never played the game before in my life other than in my own back yard, barefoot, using a baseball (smaller and harder to hit) and an old wooden bat with a crack in it. I didn't even have anyone to pitch to me, I'd just toss the baseball up in the air and swing. For hours on end. There wasn't much to do around here.

My two younger sisters rarely wanted to play since they were too busy applying massive amounts of lipstick and curling their hair and fighting over who won talent contests and such.

The practices were behind the old Cobbs Creek Elementary School, which is now Cobbs Creek Post Office. My mother brought me to one of her first practices, and mentioned to the coach that she thought I could play. I was only about 15 or 16 at the time.

Now I didn't care one way or the other if I played or not, because as I said I'd never really played before and I was super laid back in those days. Everything was all, "Whatever." (I really miss those days. Really.) Nothing bothered me.

Except the look in that coach's eye when he sized me up. I could tell he just did not believe I was capable of hitting a ball. I began to think, "How dare he assume anything!" I started to grow a slight attitude. (By the way, that attitude has grown to world record proportions over the years. I don't know how to stop it.) But I was very young and skinny as a rake at the time, and a puff of air could have sent me into flight, so I do understand why he might have had his doubts.

Nevertheless, he allowed me the opportunity to hit the ball. He pitched me one, I swung, made contact, and casually placed the bat on my shoulder as I watched the ball soar way past the outfield and land on the roof of that school.

Chesapeake Bay Woman had just made the team. And her days of being Super/Hyper Competitive were just beginning.

And now, speaking of competitive spirit, I am off to beat my children in a game of ping pong. I will win. I always do. I simply must. There is no other possible outcome.

Except a hissy fit if I don't. Or a conniption.

Hissy fit and conniption. I haven't used those words in a long time. I like them. And they pretty well describe what goes on around here on a routine basis.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Smooth sailing. Does such a thing exist? I would be relieved if the answer were no because then I could stop struggling to achieve it.

Even though I feel eternally 17, I also feel potentially 87 at times. My mind says 17 but my body says, "That ain't gonna happen." More importantly, life says, "Don't even think about carefree youth anymore. Let me show you this nice apartment located in the city of Eternal Stress and Worry."

There is always something that needs tending to, there is always some life drama, there is always some boat that sinks even though you still owe what's in Fort Knox on it, and then there are the unexpected difficulties, such as your car is 6,500 miles over the last oil change or the gutter is pulling away from the house or half of the shutters have blown off (in Tropical Storm Ernesto, which occurred the same year gas was .35 cents a gallon) or ants and raccoons have teamed up, declared a state of sovereignty and asked you to leave their country. Or you wake up with a sore throat and a broken-out face.

Stuff like that.

Can someone please explain the forces at work when you did NOT have skin issues as a teenager but you DO have them at age 40 Plus? Also, I never get a sore throat. Ever. It's summer time anyway, and who gets a sore throat then?

Chesapeake Bay Woman, that's who.

Am I the only one who was laid back as a teenager and reasonably laid back as a twenty-something and then hit a certain Old Age and became ONE RAW NERVE ACCOMPANIED BY A FURROWED BROW DEEP ENOUGH TO SWIM IN?

I need to know the answer to this question. Please provide examples to support your theory one way or the other.

Chesapeake Bay Mental Patient

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


This is another shot of that incredible sunrise from the other day. One thing you can rely on is the sun coming up in the mornin'. Another thing you can rely on is me falling down and having chunks of flesh disappear into a place called Excruciating Pain.

Sometimes it takes a while to realize how much you appreciate Something or Someone because you're too busy running the marathon race called Life, which in my case today includes dealing with a sinking boat. Again. With a gangrenous finger which hurts when I breathe. Or think. I am sure salt water mixed with boat grease and tears will be wonderful for it. Just wonderful.

Before I take on the boat, however, I'd like to slow down for a minute and praise this place called Mathews.

It's beautiful.

It's peaceful.

It's a great place to raise children. In my opinion, it's the only place.

The pace of life is slower and more relaxed. My blood pressure goes down just as soon as I turn from Gloucester onto Route 14 on my ride home from work. Of course, when I arrive home and my trash is all over the yard and the boat is sinking, the b.p. goes right back up, but at least it lingers in the lower numbers for a spell beforehand.

It's a place where you not only know your neighbors, you haul their trash if they are unable to take it to the dump, preferably before the raccoons have their next raucous fraternity party. When you wake up in the morning and you see where the raccoons have left behind the equivalent of this amount of trash and scattered debris: Woodstock--it's time to assess who is actually living on this property and who is considered the pest.

If you have a surplus of vegetables from your garden, you share it. (I am the one you share it with because I can't grow anything except hair in unwanted places.)

If you can't afford something, you are extended credit with a handshake and a smile. Unless it's the gas station, in which case you need to take out a second mortgage.

It's a place where a friend who is absolutely exhausted from a long commute and a hard day's work offers to help you with a sinking boat, and sincerely means it. The boat is definitely sinking and I will be spending the better part of today alternating between crying and bailing. Crying is not particularly conducive to bailing a boat out, but it is a necessary part of the process, and an essential ingredient in most of my days.

This is why it's good for me to be in Mathews. If all the stuff that happens to me happened to me in a stressful suburb, well, let's just say that Chesapeake Bay Woman would change her name to Eastern State Hospital Resident for Life.

Mathews County is a place like none other, in spite of sinking boats, ant infestations, gangrenous fingers and partying raccoons.

It's home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

James Brown

Continuing with yesterday's theme of my mother's writing, here is a portion of something she wrote about James Brown. James Brown is my mother's absolute favorite after Joe Tex, but J. B. was way more prolific, and, might I say, hilarious. ("Popcorn," anyone? I break out into hysterics whenever I hear that song.)

"Everything in life can be set to a tune by James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. James has been setting my feet on fire since I cannot remember when. Growing up in the fifties, I stole into my father's Oldsmobile (I swear) and listened to James, Joe Tex, and whomever happened to be playing on the local radio station. Occasionally I would catch a bawling-out for running the car battery down, but not for my decadent musical taste, which remained my little secret.

....My children know better than to disparage my music (since they like it too); my husband used to play in a soul band and shares my fondness for the music-induced euphoria it brings us. Our neighbors* are mostly country music fans, going on and on about their heroes and heroines (some of whom we have never heard of), and we pretend to agree. It is pushing our luck to show our true colors....

On Mother's Day I cooked a very mediocre chicken dinner and cranked up James Brown. It was Mother's Day and this mother wanted it, OK? When it comes to dancing, I don't have a good foot; nevertheless "Get Off on the Good Foot" was the anthem of the day.

And I feel good."

-Chesapeake Bay Woman's Mother

*These are the same neighbors mentioned in a previous story, who may or may not have considered my parents to be devil-worshippers, even though they aren't. They just listen to James Brown on major holidays and streak through the yard on occasion.

Is there anything wrong with that?

The Dentist

Here's another Gwynn's Island sunset to kick off a discussion of one of my most dreaded fears: the dentist.

I live in absolute, mortal fear of the dentist. In fact, I am so afraid of a dentist I haven't been to one in over seven years, and that was only to have him tell me that I needed to see an oral surgeon ASAP because if I didn't I could look forward to a long life of creamed spinach and PoliGrip. Seven years later, I'm in big trouble because I did not heed his advice. But actually this is not a story about my fear of the dentist, it's about my mother's.

The following is something she wrote many moons ago. It stunned me because although she is well acquainted with my mental dental issues, I was completely unaware of hers. Here's what she wrote:
"On visiting the dentist, I find I have somewhat the same reaction as my dog when visiting the vet, although I try to focus on not falling to my knees and p**ing the floor in abject paralytic fear. Still, hiding your feelings is a peculiarly human trait and Rover has no evolutionary predisposition to grin and say, "I'm here for my root canal/neutering," with a cheery if somewhat high-pitched voice.

One dental experience of mine stands out in memory for its surrealistic example of why people should just stop and listen to the clues of the cosmos, which come in the forms of prophetic words, images and combinations of those to which you can refer after the ordeal of agony and say, "I just should have listened to the warnings."

Warning #1: The dental surgeon you are seeing is named Dr. Paine, Dr. Savage or Dr. Sharp (I did select one of those).

Warning #2: No one else is in the waiting room and you overhear the nurse telling someone to apply ice and a crucifix. No one else is there. No one.

Warning #3: Once in the chair, you are told to turn your head 360 degrees, open your mouth to receive a collapsible device which, once inside, expands to life raft proportions. You notice he has the personality of a gallows noose. At that point he asks many questions designed to relax you, such as, "How are your children?" Your back is arched like a cat's and your nails are dug into the fine leather of his very expensive operating chair. The last thing you want to go into are explanations of your children, as much as you love them. Now, clearly, it is too late to do anything but sit there and take it. Woe is you.

No, that's not going to happen to me again, no sir. I'm taking a page out of the Book of Rover when I smell the first molecule of doubt.

Unless someone drags me by a leash."

-Chesapeake Bay Woman's Mother

In other unrelated news, last night, just after I said to someone that I never EVER fall going up steps, I fell going up some steps outside. I came down hard on some very large rocks. I'm missing a large chunk of a finger, and my chin feels like there's something missing, such as a chin.

All this plus my teeth are falling out. I guess I'd better see a dentist.

Somebody get a leash.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


As much as I love the sunsets around here, the sunrises can be just as magnificent.

May everyone's week be as serene and magical as this sunrise.


Yesterday, as I was rummaging through a box of stuff from my college days, I discovered some letters sent to me by various former boyfriends. As I was reading them, I started to break out into a sweat for one of several possible reasons depending on whose letter I was reading. Either I couldn't believe what was actually written or I couldn't believe I ever went out with this person. Or both.

Let's read a sample from a boyfriend who really never should have been a boyfriend because he was really just a friend. (Confused? You're right on track then.) Let's call him Jay.

Jay lived in my dorm the first year of college and was in love with any female who had blond hair. That really was his only requirement. At that time, my hair happened to be blond. (Crayola couldn't come up with a name for the color it is right now.) I will also note that Jay loved girls with brown hair. Jay just loved girls. So, basically his only true requirement was that the individual be female. Which I happen to be, so I met all his requirements.

Somehow or another, I ended up going out with him. I do not recall when the relationship changed from dorm-mate/friend to anything more, but I am sure one of my college roommates can clarify this for me. And then I will have to make an appointment with a psychotherapist.

Here's some of what Jay had to say in his letter, written when he was in summer school, and four excruciating pages in length:

" I love you very much and thought about you a whole lot. I told another person that I am extremely happy with the way things are going for me. I said that I have been seeing Chesapeake Bay Teenager* for about 5 months and have never been happier. That is so true - I have been (and hope to always be) very happy. I don't want to start getting sappy, but I mean it anyway. Thanks for all of the truly fantastic times I've had with you, and, as I've said, I hope there are billions more."

"....I NEED TO DRINK** today because I have to study tomorrow and Wednesday - I can't wait until this is all over with. School is really starting to bug me. Of course when you are here in the fall, school will be much better, as it was for me after Spring Break. The turn around attitude of mine towards school could all be attributed to you. I really enjoyed school - or at least if I didn't enjoy it , it didn't bother me because you made me (and still make me) very happy. I really have an unreal amounts [sic] of fun when I'm with you. I know I keep saying this, but I hope that I can come see you on Monday - I miss you terribly."

"...Some woman just won a trip to Rio on television. I want to go there so badly, and even more than that, I want you to be with me. Maybe I will find a bunch of money today and we can go. I expect that will happen.*** If it doesn't happen, then I guess Nags Head will have to do for now - then we will go to Rio later."****

*CBT was suffering from temporary insanity for dating this person. Or just plain suffering. Or just plain insane.
**Pass me a sip of that drink, will you? I need one after reliving this chapter of my life.
***Here's what I expect will happen around the same time you find all that money: Pigs will sprout wings and fly. And I'm riding one off into the sunset.
****I'll pass, thanks. You go on ahead. I'm sure you'll have an unreal amounts of fun.

And now I really have to take a break from all this. I'm starting to have flashbacks of a trip he and I took to the Bahamas. It was a free trip that he won through his fraternity. When a fraternity foots the bill for a 3-day trip to the Bahamas, let's just say the quality of the hotel was this: I would rather have slept covered in maple syrup on top of an anthill.

Now I must shed an unreal amounts of tears and pretend this never happened.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Another beautiful Gwynn's Island sunset.....and another completely unrelated commentary.

When I was hacking a path through my basement the other day, I stumbled upon a box of stuff from my college days. Finding stuff like this, to me, is the equivalent of finding a treasure chest.

It never ceases to amaze me how much of my life I have forgotten already, but thanks to my inability to throw most things away, such treasure chests serve as a reminder of a life I once lived.

Among the multitude of items found in this box are:

1. Ticket stub to a Talking Heads concert I attended at U-Hall in Charlottesville on Wednesday, October 12, 1983. I do remember this event, but I’d rather not talk about it. It involves a whole lot of Teenage Stupidity. Thank you.

2. Various letters from various former boyfriends. I did a whole lot of cringing when I was reading those. My face hurts. I have a sore neck from shaking my head in utter disbelief. Why does it take 40+ years for a human being to have any sense? Actually, do I have any yet? This is up for debate.

3. A mid-term exam from my “People of the Caribbean” class. One of the questions required me to write a short essay to compare and contrast “settler" colonies and “exploitation” colonies, and explain how the distinction does or does not coincide with the distinction between Hispanic and non-Hispanic colonization in the Caribbean. HUH? Is it actually possible that I even understood the question and wrote a response to this? What happened to all this information? Where did it go? Can I get it back? I paid good money for that college education and for what? The ability to remember a Talking Heads concert and nothing else?

4. A notice from the library that I had 5 books about Haiti overdue. The overdue notice does not surprise me one bit. The fact that I read 5 books on Haiti is incredible, though. If my life depended on it, I could not tell you one single fact about Haiti this moment. Other than it exists on planet Earth.

5. A list of things I wanted to talk over with my guidance counselor the one and only time I met with him in the 4 years and 3 months (don’t ask) of my college career. I wanted him to tell me if I should double-major (NO!) and if the following courses were OK to take: Introduction to International Politics; National Government of U.S.; Spanish 301 Conversation and Spanish 311 Grammar. I took International Politics? Really?? International Politics?

There’s plenty more in this box, but I am too confused right now to look any more. I’m scared of what else I’ll find that I’ve forgotten.

Such as a twenty year old child.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


This man is relaxing in front of another beautiful sunset in Mathews County. He looks very calm and at peace. He isn’t worried about whether or not he’ll fall down when he returns to his house. I worry about falling down or hurting myself every single day.

This afternoon I decided to go down into the depths of my basement and move some stuff around so I could actually walk. My basement has over 40 years of stuff in it; I never know what I’m going to find. I am not kidding when I say there is a porpoise skull down there.

Today, though, I found something good. I found a folder of e-mails that I saved from when I worked at Price Waterhouse in Washington, DC. It was full of correspondence between me and my mother, when she had internet service (she no longer does).

In case you haven’t noticed, I tend to be slightly accident-prone and don’t always have the best of luck. I attract bad weather on vacations; I attract ants; I am the only person on the planet who could damage a nerve from too much sitting in front of a computer; I can’t put ant poison down without hitting my head on something sticking out the side of the house; I fall off ponies; I fall off of boats; I wake up in the morning only to find my boat half-sunk.

Does anyone see a trend here?

Anyway, in this folder of correspondence, I discovered the very reason I am so clumsy , accident-prone and full of bad luck: my mother.

To wit:

July 20, 1997

From: Chesapeake Bay Woman’s Mother

“ ….I am bushed and whacked. Not to mention sore from falling down the stairs at your Little Sister’s with my feet wet from shampooing the room where the cat stays. I got a bruise on my arm and one on my back. I was lucky again.”

Also this:

July 21, 1991

From: Chesapeake Bay Woman’s Mother

“Well we are home. Daddy made out very well again and is doing well. I, on the other hand, fell down on the sidewalk at the hospital and skinned up my knees and hands. I had just walked out to the gazebo for some fresh air before Daddy’s doctor arrived, and the sidewalk was uneven and down she went. They are pretty sore now, but I’ll live.”

And finally this:

June 24, 1997

From: Chesapeake Bay Woman’s Mother

“….Dad’s in his drawers and I’m in my bikini and we’re sweating like two wieners on a charcoal spit. Maybe it’s time for an after-dark dash au naturale. Everybody thinks we are devil worshippers anyway.”

Note: This last e-mail had nothing to do with clumsiness or bad luck but I absolutely could not resist sharing it.

Just to clarify, we are not now nor have we ever been devil worshippers. Various family members have been known to run around the yard naked though.

Don't tell anyone.


This is an unadulterated Gwynn's Island sunset. That's a whole lot of orange and a whole lot of glare. Don't look at it too long or it will burn a hole in your retina.

Now is as good a time as any to talk about my "expertise" in the field of photography. Let's start, shall we?:

1. (Crickets chirping.)

2. (Dogs howling.)

3. (Crickets chirping again.)

4. I received a digital camera for Christmas and three months later found the courage to pull out the instructions, figure out how to put the strap on it and insert the batteries.

5. Several weeks and many tears later, I finally figured out how to transfer pictures from the camera to the computer to the internet. I still have post-traumatic stress syndrome associated with this. I start to tremble just thinking about it.

6. Other than pressing the one button to take a picture, I do not do anything else. I wouldn't know how to edit a picture if the future of the entire planet depended on it. That would involve half a brain cell that leans towards technical expertise. I don't have one of those, but I am considering ordering one.

And that wraps up everything I know about photography. Anything I toss up here is something I captured as follows: Aim camera. Press Button. The End.

Of course when you live in a place as beautiful as Mathews, skill is the last thing required to capture a decent picture. Thank goodness for that. Otherwise, I'd be in big trouble.

Speaking of big trouble, I have to go lie down now. There are no fewer than 10 ants crawling on my computer, which is in my bedroom. And where there are 10, there are 62.5 million. It's too early in the day for all this stress, plus I just burned a hole in my retina.

Have I mentioned I really need a vacation?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Amusement Park

This is yet another shot of the bay from the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and it has absolutely nothing to do with anything you will read below, other than this is the bay, and I live near the bay and desire to stay as close as possible to it for the rest of my days on this planet.

Today, which is really yesterday when you read this, Mathews County native, frequent commenter and my second (or third? or one and a half, two times removed? *) Cousin Cats, her son and my son went to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. We had a great time, great weather and plenty of laughter. And screaming. The screaming was all mine; the laughter was mostly my son's. He likes to laugh at his mother, and I love making him laugh, even if it isn't intentional and I am merely trying to ensure everyone is aware that I am about to die due to my head being jerked off my shoulders by DaVinci's Cradle, for example.

I would like to provide the following tips for any of you contemplating going to an amusement park this summer:

1. To prepare for the day, start working out a year in advance. I recommend a heavy dose of weight lifting and plenty of cardio. This will eliminate the need to call the park medical staff when, upon walking mile 4,000, you collapse in the heat into a puddle of despair.

And this was just the distance from the car to the tram that took us into the 20-mile long wait just to get into the park.

2. To practice for the waiting in line, try holding the contents of your bladder for, oh, twelve days straight. During those twelve days, do not eat a single morsel of food, do not drink water, and please do stand in front of a blazing fire underneath a heat lamp in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Wear a ski suit and wrap yourself in Seran Wrap. Under these conditions, stand jammed up against 42,000 people and be herded through a maze with no end.

And then, after an eternity, two panic attacks, some nail biting and many tears, get on some 3-d ride that JERKS YOUR INSIDES AROUND until your intestines and your brain exchange places.

You are now prepared to face the abusement park.

The End.

* Cats' great-grandfather and my great-grandfather, the blacksmith, were brothers. I have no idea what that makes us, other than cousins who enjoy each other's company and like to laugh. That's all that matters in life anyway, loving and laughing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Warning: This photograph has absolutely no relevance to this story at all. None.

One lesson I have learned in my short time on this planet is that if you surrender the reins in life, rather than attempt to control them, things go much easier.

Of course this rule does NOT apply to actual horses. And it most certainly does not apply to Shetland ponies. In particular it did not apply to Frisky.

When I was young, I took horseback riding lessons. My mother's mother's sister's son's wife--for goodness sakes some relative-in-law--gave the lessons. This individual also taught me various classes at school; then certain days of the week I'd go to her house and figure out how to stay on top of a crazy pony.

To prove it was the pony, and not me, who was crazy, I offer the following data from my childhood diary:

Monday, January 28, 1974 (just turned 9)

Dear Diary,

Today I went to school. I went to riding lessons. I rode Yogi. Charlotte rode Frisky,* and Dee Dee rode Lady. We went trail riding. When we were coming home, Charlotte got bucked off **of Frisky. Frisky ran up the hill. Then Lady started cantering real fast and tried to catch up with Frisky. I was the ONLY one who didn't have a wild pony.***

-Chesapeake Bay Child

* CBC rode Frisky before. Frisky was a Shetland pony. Who was crazy.
** CBC got bucked off of Frisky on a trail ride, too, and Crazy Frisky stepped on her ankle. CBC wised up and begged for another pony after that, and was still astonished when Charlotte got bucked off at precisely the same spot in the trip as CBC. Frisky was crazy.
***At least THIS go 'round.

Here's what would happen. That tiny little dust speck of a pony, cute as a bug's ear, would go out with some poor, unsuspecting child on her back. On the way home, she knew it would be feeding time at the barn once she arrived. Frisky didn't care if the person on top of her got there safely or not. Frisky only wanted the handful of grain that'd be in her stall back at the barn.

So after Frisky completed a certain portion of said trail ride, Frisky said to HECK with someone trying to control me. No matter how hard you pulled, yanked, hollered or cried, that pony was on a mission and there was absolutely no stopping her. In fact, the more you did all that, the worse it became. She used to say, "Please. Stop all your efforts. I'm just going to run faster and more out of control the more you do all that, and if you don't fall off on your own, I'll just give a little buck and send you on your merry way." I know because I heard her say it to me once. Then, she bucked me off and stepped on my ankle.

You could not control Frisky. It was futile.

The same sort of futility involved in trying to control ants in Mathews.

Contrary to the point I was trying to make initially about not resisting things such as a crazy pony or a crazy life and just accepting the ride as it comes, I cannot and will not ease the reins on these ants. So exactly what the point is of all this, I'm not sure.

Other than Frisky was crazy.


After writing about and photographing the Chesapeake Bay for over 4 months now, it's finally time for me to tackle the topic of sailing.

There are two categories of boats, and they are:

1. Sailboats
2. All other boats

Did you know there were only two? Did you know that when I write here I can say whatever I want with conviction even if it isn't true? I can and do regularly, and most of the time not on purpose, but this isn't what I'm trying to communicate today.

For some strange reason, I prefer just about any boating except sailing, and I'm not exactly sure why. I think sailboats are beautiful; they're elegant. I imagine it would be a very exciting and relaxing way to enjoy the bay on a breezy day.

But they also appear to be a great deal of work. And if I am going to go out on a boat, the last thing I want to do is work. I have more than enough work to do around the house, I surely don't need to go search for more on a boat.

I confess I have only been sailing a handful of times in my life, and most of those encounters were on a sunfish, which is a teeny-tiny baby of a sailboat. In fact, growing up we actually owned a sailfish. I think I went out on it twice. It was too much work. Plus, I taught myself how to use it, and I may not have known what I was doing, where "may not have known " really means "definitely had no idea."

Also, there's this.

One time my Middle Sister and I took the sunfish out on the creek for a spin. I was hollering at her to do something (that was my job, to holler), the wind was not cooperating (to be specific it was shifting directions way too quickly), and we were having difficulty with the line that controls the sail. Of course there's a term for this line, of course I don't know it or remember it, of course this is my story and I could just make something up and say it with confidence and those of you who don't sail would never know the difference. But I won't today. Maybe tomorrow.

We were sort of stuck in the creek with no way to move because That Line was not taut, meaning the sail was floundering, and Middle Sister was not moving quickly enough to improve the situation. Just as I was midstream hollering out more instructions for her, the wind suddenly shifted directions and the sail swung back around violently and hit me in the head. It hit me so hard it knocked me out of the boat backwards into the water. I actually completed a back flip. It happened so quickly there was no possible way to prevent it, and it was so hilarious I laughed underwater. I laughed underwater, thankfully without inhaling.

Somehow or another, I got back on the boat, but not before Middle Sister had some choice words. Because this is my story, I'm going to say that she wasn't very helpful in the situation, and of course if she'd been following my instructions to begin with, I wouldn't have been knocked off the boat.

In writing this, I did a search on sailing terms, to try and figure out exactly what that piece is called that swung around and hit me. Here's what a particular site had to say:

" Respect the boom! Some of the most common sailing injuries are a result of not being aware when the boom is about to swing. To avoid a bump to the head, or even worse, being knocked overboard, one of the most important beginner sailing tips to always remember for both passengers and crew is to be conscious and respectful of the boom at all times."

Sailing is too much work.

And hazardous to your skull.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I love the bay. I just love it. There's nothing more to say.

Except this: Can you believe I am being so brief?

Me either.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fiddler Crabs

These are fiddler crabs which are in abundant supply all around my shoreline. Normally they're seen at low tide, and when you approach they scurry to hide in the marsh grass. When there are hundreds of them, the sound is pretty eerie. When they show up in unexpected places, eerie doesn't even begin to describe them.

Today I spent 28 hours on the John Deere cutting the grass. At about hour 12, I came upon a portion of the yard that I always approach with caution because there are hidden stumps that, when hit going wide open on the tractor, render me cross-eyed.

This was a particularly uneventful week for me, but that was about to change. To spot and avoid potential disasters and another trip to the hospital, I was glancing downward more than usual as the tractor hummed along. All of a sudden, my entire body went into rigor mortis as I pushed down the brake pedal to immediately halt the tractor due to the following completely unexpected turn of events:

Fiddler crabs in the yard.
Yes, fiddler crabs in my yard.
Fiddler crabs in the grass.
Fiddler crabs in the driveway.
Fiddler crabs out of their element.
Fiddler crabs in my element.

Fiddler crabs were in my yard. Way up in the yard. Way far away from the shoreline. So far they'd have to take a Greyhound bus to get back home. And they were not scurrying away like they're supposed to. They were having a fiddler crab convention where the topic was "7 Easy Ways to Drive Chesapeake Bay Woman to the Brink."

There wasn't just one or two random, stray fiddler crabs, there was an entire colony and as such I must hereby officially declare a state of Fiddler Crab Infestation.

Fiddler crabs are not supposed to be encountered when one is cutting grass. It just isn't natural.

Due to the extreme nature of aforementioned infestation, CBW must now close and say Best Wishes to all of her reader(s) because she must now go check into Eastern State Hospital.

If you don't know what that is, just google it.

Scarred for life at the prospect that I crunched up fiddler crabs with the John Deere even though with most things I gun it so I can destroy and ruin whatever It is. But I really didn't want to crunch a fiddler crab. Or see one propelled at high speeds out of the mower deck. Or do anything to invite them to seek revenge.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wanted: Serenity

This calm, serene photo of the bay is just what I need right about now. Today, which is yesterday when y'all read this, I had to endure a most cruel and unusual form of torture that surprisingly does not involve ants, storms or sisters.

Today, after an entire week of one mishap after the other, I was asked to report to Rinky Dink Hospital next county over to have a nerve conduction test performed. In case you don't know what that is, let me explain: DON'T EVER GET ONE OF THESE. RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN AND DON'T LOOK BACK.

A nerve conduction test involves three things: electrical shocks that would kill a small mammal and most birds; needles plunged into your legs, feet and back along every nerve you have--and some you didn't realize you had--as the doctor practices his butter churning moves; and an utter disbelief that this isn't the 1600's given how barbaric the procedure is. The doctor should have just stuck some leeches on me and sent me off with a rabbit's foot for good luck.

The end result was this: I have damaged a nerve in my leg that in all probability is caused from sitting with my legs crossed too long and too often. It couldn't possibly be from all the sitting I do here in front of my beloved computer. No, it can't be that. Of course, the other possibilities include MS, brain tumor, Lou Gehrig's disease and DEATH. The shaman says it is likely the leg crossing thing and it may take a year for the damage to be repaired.

Oh, and speaking of ants (I thought I heard someone speak of ants, maybe it was the voices inside my head), here's what happened after that picnic. I came home and decided to wage war on the ants by spreading POISON around the perimeter of the house. With my head down and all my attention on making sure that each ant received its own personalized pellet of death, I did not see the dryer vent sticking out the side of the house and clunked my head right on it.

Now I have a knot on my forehead.

My last nerve has been plucked.


p.s. Happy Birthday to frequent and incredibly funny commenter, Ms. Foolery. Here is hoping you have a fantastic, fun-filled, stress-free day. (Can I have one of those too?)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Clothes Line

Let's get this straight right up front. These are not my pants. Repeat: These are definitely not my pants. Not that there's anything wrong with their shape ...or anything......

Until I can finish up my internet homework, I wanted to put up something quick and easy, which in this case is my parents' clothes line.

This was shot from their yard, looking into my yard, but it all blends together into one endless yard the size of Kansas. I have to cut Kansas with a John Deere riding mower while fending off crab apples, walnuts, sticks the size of redwood trees, low-hanging tree limbs, wasps, and stumps. Plus not one but two clothes lines. All this with an empty cup holder.

Did you know that stumps are actually alive and their sole purpose is to cause whiplash along with a complete destruction of your mower blades? Did you know that when I run over things like this it only causes me to go faster on the tractor and dare something else to get caught up in the mower blades, something such as rope or twine, which guarantees the following readings from a blood pressure cuff: OFF THE CHARTS? Do you have any idea how many times I have ruined each and every part of a riding lawn mower? I do it with mucho gusto. It's my life's purpose.

My parents use a clothes line even though they have a dryer. They hang their clothes out even in the winter. I've seen their stuff on the line when cytoges* came through. I've also seen their stuff hanging on the line during a snowstorm. Did you know that shirts can stand of their own accord if exposed to the proper temperature and weather conditions? And that you need a crowbar to return them to the vicinity of their original shape?

*Cytoge pronounced sigh - toe - g (as-in-Gus)- ee noun a horrific storm of mass proportions, never predicted, and sure to be life altering. Combines a cyclone, tornado and gale into one word. Almost always seen when CBW goes on vacation. Or comes home from work. Or wakes up.

Or breathes.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Today will be good. It has to be. There will be no rain clouds, no boats sinking, no ants ordering me around and no unpredicted hurricane-force storms. This picture shows nothing but blue skies and the Chesapeake Bay, my favorite body of water outside of my bathtub (except the bay doesn't have soap scum, although it does have eels and blowtoads). Today I have to go to the paying job, but aside from that minor cirrus cloud the skies are DEFINITELY GOING TO BE CLEAR AND BLUE. Do ya hear me ants and storm clouds and boats that wish to put me in an early grave?

Today I will not talk about yesterday, except that I already did.

I am tardy on two blogging assignments, but I can only tackle one at the time given my dissatisfaction with the answers I've come up with to both questions and the stench of motor oil seeping from my pores after bailing out a boat whose inboard/outboard was completely submerged. These noxious fumes have rendered me even more incapable than usual of performing my daily functions, which include The Internet and The Internet, in that order precisely.

Mental p Mamma ( - please visit if you never have, she has beautiful photos and inspirational words) was kind enough to tag me for a little exercise that involves asking spouse/partner/kids/dogs/cats/whomever to list 3 random things that pop into their minds when they think about you (also known as me).

I confess that I like to color outside the lines sometimes. I also confess that I asked more than one person, plus two cats to contribute to this exercise. I combined all the answers and wanted to pick and choose the ones I liked best to post here for the world to see, even though the world = two readers.

Sisters: I do not expect to hear anything from either of you about me bending rules, or not playing fairly, or anything like that. You both know how responsible and law-abiding I am. If I wish to exercise poetic license every now and then, I think I should be entitled to do so....even if that license expired in 1983.

Actually, the reason I approached it this way is because I didn't find anything earth-shattering or even mildly entertaining about my children's responses, other than one who said, "I don't know."

Nevertheless, here we go with their answers:
- I try to think of what you look like (I will tell you Daughter said this, and I have to say when your own daughter doesn’t know what you look like, there might be a problem. Therefore, I will interpret this to mean that when she thinks of me, she thinks of what I look like. I love poetic license.)

-Ants (Hmmmph.)

-You radiate good to all who come near you (Aw. I never knew. Will someone read this line at my funeral? You can claim poetic license. Thanks.)

-I wonder how you're doing (Am I really that stressed? Never mind, I know the answer.)

-Funny (I like this one, except this was my cat's answer.)

-I don’t know (This was especially profound…and troubling given the source. Clearly I need to spend more time with my children.)

-As dependable as time itself (Aw again. The only thing you cannot depend on me for is housework.)

-Wonder if you watered my plants (Son is growing watermelons, and I always forget to water them when he goes away overnight to someone’s house. Thank goodness for rain.)

-Bright/Smart (This individual is really not well.)

-Exudes a sincerity and calm that is captivating (Very sweet,but I was not exuding calm yesterday morning when I discovered the boat half-sunk. I'd call that exuding fire from my tongue as my head spun around.)

That’s it. If I had to select the single one above that I believe describes me it would hands down be, “I don’t know.”

Hang on to your hat, Grandma J ( - check it out). I'm tackling your assignment tonight night after work. But I will be completely unable to copy graphics and create links--and follow instructions. I may color outside the lines a bit and exercise that expired poetic license.

In the meantime, here's hoping everyone has a sunny day.

"I don't know."

Sinking Ship

I miss my tree from vacation. I really need him (I'm going to call it a him) and his calming effect today.

Yesterday when I arrived home after my 50-mile-one-way commute from my paying job, after being gone for about 10 days, and where nothing ever happens except this: crickets chirping, and where all of a sudden every project I've ever worked on was due tomorrow (which is today and I don't work today), and where nobody has access to the internet because, well, just because, and I suffer huge internet withdrawals after only ten minutes away from it, after aaaaaaallllll that, I pull up to the house and glance over at the boat for some strange reason. (I can't usually explain most things I do.)

This boat, on which there are ten thousand years of payments left, is not maintained properly, but sits in the boathouse waiting for someone to take care of her. She's been waiting since the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. (Boats are female, you know; and trees are male. I don't make up these rules but I do try and abide by them.)

The stern of the boat was sitting waaaaaayyyyyy too low in the water for my comfort. I left a message for help to hurry home so I didn't have to call 911 for myself after a stroke. Help said they'd bail her out in the morning. Morning arrives, Help is not bailing. I go out, lift the engine cover off the floor and notice that a body of water the size of Lake Erie has submerged every possible part that would otherwise be attributed to a boat engine.

My blood pressure soared to all new heights. The veins in my temples throbbed and pounded. They screamed for relief. I put one hand on my chest and held the other one up skyward, screaming that this was The Big One, Elizabeth. Realizing my children do still need their mother (at least I'm assuming so), I decided to calm myself down.

The best and quickest way to do that is to focus on my tree from vacation.

I am calmer now, but there is still this much water left to bail out: the Indian Ocean.

I have a few assignments to complete today, courtesy of mental p mamma ( and grandma j (

I will attempt to get that done right after I save this sinking ship.

Oh, and also that boat.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Motorized Cooler

Um, yeah. This is a motorized cooler. A cooler you can ride on. A cooler with handle bars, foot pegs and a cushioned seat. A cooler that someone packed into their car and drove all around the campground during our vacation. Am I the only person who has never seen one of these?

Last week on our camping vacation I spent a great deal of time sitting around the campsite contemplating the meaning of laundry, life and daily bathing. As a result, I did a whole lot of people watching. If you've never been to a campground before, let me tell you about the sorts of characters who camp: We are usually very nice people with some very serious eccentricities and, generally speaking, not a whole lot of concern about what people think of us(hence my ability to quickly forget about hygiene and changing clothes and such).

I realize that living in Mathews dictates that we are far behind the times with modern trends and gadgets and things. But when I saw a man go by on this motorized cooler, I simply could not believe my eyes...nor could I control my laughter, which is very, very loud.

My children considered this noteworthy as well. Here's what they had to say:

Son, Day 2
The main highlight of this day was that we discovered something far better than TV, watching people go by our site. We saw people on 3-wheeled bikes that you lay down in that came with decorative flags, and people way too big to be riding bicycles. But the best one of them all was the motorized cooler. When Mom saw it she had to check 3 times to see if she wasn't crazy.* I was the only one to have seen one.

Daughter, Day 2
On the second day, Brother and I went out almost the whole day. We went to the arcade.....Anyway when we got back our Mom told us that a motorized cooler just rode by our camper. We laughed for a while then we started to get a look at it. Fortunately it was parked at the Bait and Tackle shop. Oh, and also Sam and I went to the General Store. Back to the cooler. It had brakes and a horn. And pedals.**

* The jury is still out - no verdict has been reached on this topic.
**It also had a cup holder.

The one predictable part of camping is this: Nothing. Except storms, ants and shirtless characters riding around on motorized coolers with padded seat, foot pegs and cup holder.

Sounds about right for one of my vacations.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Storm

As predicted, we had a major Weather Event during our camping vacation on the Eastern Shore last week. It went like this:

1. Clear skies.
2. Everything's fine.
3. Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.
4. Category Three Hurricane.
5. Awning ripped off pop-up camper; other major, structural canvas pieces ripped; children traumatized for life.
6. Happy Vacation. You did not die.
7. The End.

Now, let's hear the children's version of events:

Son: Day 4
On the 4th day we were here there was a great typhoon. It was at the end of the day right as we were eating marshmallows. We all rushed into the camper except my StepDad. When we were in the camper, the wind was so bad we were rocking back and forth. Mom was trying to comfort us saying it's going to be fine or it's almost over. But we knew that it was bad because we were being soaked by the leaks in the camper. People outside were running all around, things were hitting the camper and all kinds of stuff was happening. Then my Stepdad told us all these plans in case of a tornado* But in the end we were all fine, except the hammock, which looked like a sailboat's sail during the storm.

Daughter: Day 4
Today everything was fine. Brother and I went putt-putting and I won for the first time. The score was 51-52. Then we all went to the bathroom except my Mom.** A storm came in and the camper got torn and the hammock was twisted around 697 times. My Mom had to p** like a race horse. She hadn't p**d since lunch time. We finally fell asleep.

* Vacation Tip #1: When death is imminent and you're trying to comfort children by saying anything but what is actually happening, suppress Stepdad's talk about emergency tornado procedures, which may include, "If you hear something that sounds like an oncoming train, we're all going to die, so here is the emergency plan: Dive head first into the pedal-boat pond and stay underwater until the tornado passes."

** Vacation Tip #2: Never let the fact that the campground's community bathrooms are located in the state of Maine deter you from walking the distance several times a day. You never know when an unpredicted tropical depression will strike, rendering you helpless, trapped in a camper with two children and no facilities.

And an ardent desire to be someplace far, far away.

My Tree

This was the view from our campsite during last week's vacation. The pond is for pedal boating. Just beyond that tree is the Chesapeake Bay. Nothing but water for miles on end. Interestingly enough, if you were to go straight across the bay from about this point, you'd hit Mathews County. And a whole lot of choppy water. But no ants.

This tree and I became very close on my so-called vacation. I sat and stared at it for hours and days on end. It spoke to me; I spoke back. I studied every single limb and marveled at the ever changing sky in the background. I am amazed how soothing it is to simply sit,daydream and focus on one gorgeous thing. You forget your worries, your ant infestations, the scorching heat, the hurricane-force winds with horizontal rain, and the lack of personal hygiene due to having to walk to the state of Delaware to get to the community showers. As a reminder, I am speaking of my "vacation" here.

I could post a different picture of My Tree every day from now until Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, here's what I want this year: the Orkin Man.

Friday, July 4, 2008


This is yet another beautiful sunset from the Eastern Shore. I like gazing off into sunsets and the bay for many reasons, but most of all for this: Ants cannot thrive--and in fact will drown a quick death--in the Chesapeake Bay.

My Son and Daughter wrote about some of our vacation activities, and below is a sampling of what they consider to be highlights. You may notice a theme, and it involves ants. Millions of ants. Gazillions of ants. And Mom/CBW screaming. And use of the word "infestation." That's a word I've been hollering on a daily basis since, oh, 1982.

Nobody believes me when I say we have an infestation in our house, even though I have to ask the ants permission to use the kitchen sink. And the counter top. And the pantry. And the bathroom, the bedroom, the laundry room, the basement and the entire county of Mathews.

Nobody believed me when I said we had an infestation in the camper.

They believe me now.

Son: Day One
When we arrived...we went on a bike ride. When we came back we settled down and put all of our stuff in the camper. But when Mom comes in to get some stuff out from a cabinet, she finds a nest of ants. Spitting* and screaming** she yells*** for us to get the Raid****. But of course we don't have any. So when they went out to get some my sister and I got to watch millions***** of ants run around in the camper.

Daughter: Day One
On the first day we arrived my brother and I had to evacuate. We did plenty of bike riding then went to the camper which was now put up. Brother and I went in to watch TV. Then Mom comes in and pulls up the mattresses and gets blankets from the hatch underneath. Mom discovered an ant infestation*****! Then Mom was screaming******, "Gimme the ant spray!!" over and over again*******. We had no ant spray.
* - I don't think I really spat. But I won't rule it out entirely.
** - Yep, I did this and then some.
*** - Ditto
**** - Raid should be worn in a holster about my waist, that's the way I see it.
*****AN INFESTATION THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE. I am still spitting them out of my mouth. I inhaled one or a thousand during the screaming episode. OK. I guess I did do some spitting.
******-You bet your sweet bippy Mom was screamin'.
*******- Oh yeah. I said it over and over again. At the highest of decibels.

Ants are fine outside where they belong, or dead in a trap somewhere, but when they are nesting in your residence and taking over every aspect of your life, it is an INFESTATION that cannot and will not be tolerated.

Not by me anyway.

Off to find some Terro and some machine guns. There's an ant on my desk, but not for long.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I Need a Vacation - PLEASE

Warning: The serenity depicted in this vacation photo from the Eastern Shore is actually much farther away than it appears. To be specific it is nonexistent.

Great day in the mornin' it's good to be back! I feel like I've been gone an eternity, and that's exactly how long it's been since I've bathed properly.

I am much too tired and frazzled and confused and smelly to focus on details today, but let me give you a sampling of how this so-called vacation went. The stories I will regale you with (just enough to induce sleep) will include:

- Scorching heat;
- An insidious infestation and I mean INFESTATION!
- The much-discussed, yet still shocking hurricane-force storm that traumatized my children for life;
- Fiddler crabs in places they have no business being, such as personal undergarments;
- An intimate relationship with a tree (it was only emotional, not physical);
- An utter and complete abandonment of all personal hygiene practices to include bathing, brushing teeth and changing clothes. I slept in my bathing suit two days in a row once. A dip in the pool was counted as a bath. I just didn't care any more.

And folks? This was just the first two days.

Next, and more importantly, I can't tell you how much I missed my little internet world, and how much I appreciate all of you who tended to my house while I was away. I have fifty pounds of dirty laundry if you'd like to stick around and help me some more. If I find another fiddler crab, I'm going to need someone to dial 911. Wine-one-one no longer works in this area code.

You know there's a problem when you're sitting around a campfire saying stuff like, "Well, Foolery lives in California, and Soup is in the DC area, and Grandma J. is...." and then you realize that nobody else there has a clue what world you are living in.

I actually don't see that as my problem, but more of their problem.

It's great to be back. More stories and some pretty incredible pictures to follow in the next few days.

In the meantime, I will be contemplating my next vacation that does not include camping. Or my family.